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Adventures in Growing My Own Magical/Medicinal Herbs

Scottish_Pride

Meme-y Tree Nymph
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So one thing I've really been getting into for the past couple years, is taking what I know about gardening and seeing just the kinds of "out there" plants I can grow. Whenever I read occult or herb books where it starts talking about plants that aren't the most mainstream things to grow where I live, such as valerian, angelica, mugwort and wormwood, part of me just kinda wonders what a live specimen looks like "in person". So whenever the nursery I work for has something like these, I'll snatch one up with my awesome employee discount, do the research and figure out how I can keep it happy. Overall, I've really liked just building a relationship with these different herbs I'd only read about before, observing them in their natural state. It brings dry correspondences to life for me in a way, and I can better understand just what makes different species special on the metaphysical level.

So anyway, I thought it'd be fun to share what I've learned with y'all. Just a basic overview of what these live plants are really like, and the practical side of keeping them around/harvesting from them. I'll probably make more than one entry in this thread, as there's quite a bit of stuff I could probably talk about. You should also probably know that my region's climate is very much a sad bastard child between swamp, jungle and woodland. Constant rains, scorching summers and little to no freeze, rich soil and poor drainage mean some plants are easier for me to pull off than others. Your attempts at growing these things may not look much like mine, depending on the climate you live in. For now, I'll start with two plants here.



Lemongrass
As the name suggests, this plant is in fact a grass. Each blade is about one inch thick at maturity, and the blades all shoot from a dense cluster of root stalks. It grows intimidatingly fast, and honestly has proven to be one of the most unkillable little shits I've ever grown. I got mine as a small baby nursery transplant a year ago, about a foot long and an inch wide at the base. It now has blades going on 4-5 feet long, with the clump of stalks about 2-3 feet wide. Now that it's established, I don't do jack shit for it. If I died tomorrow, it would probably still live on for decades, continuing to consume the entire back section of bedding. One day I'll probably have to divide it along the outer stalk edges, then hurriedly find people to shove the resulting baby plants onto. Then they, too, shall know the wonders and horrors of this all-consuming mound.

When it comes to uses for this bad boy, I personally love taking fresh top sections a few inches long to put in black tea. It ends up tasting like a bootlegged version of earl gray, which is awesome when you haven't dragged your ass to the store in a while. You could also cut and dry several long strands in a bundle to make your own smudge sticks; though probably not the biggest magical nuke out there, it's got enough cleansing properties to possibly work on its own. Great for if you want an uplifting undertone in your working. I also did a cute little halloween project last year, where I made a broom with the leftover grass from cutting and drying some for tea.


Moringa
Moringa is a fast-growing tropical tree, originating from Africa. Though it can grow over 30 feet tall, you can keep cutting it back regularly to keep it a manageable shrubby size. This plant has proven pretty low-maintenance for me, and I swear it's noticeably bigger every time I go out to look at it. It wants reasonable drainage, but will tolerate moisture so long as it isn't constantly waterlogged. This tree's one big weakness is if temperatures dip below 50-ish degrees Fahrenheit. If it does, it'll drop all leaves like it's hot and go dormant. This is your cue to cut the remaining trunk down to a manageable size, then insulate it with a cage of chicken wire and straw/leaves. Leave it like this to chill (Haha, get it? Because it's cold?) until things will consistently stay nice and toasty again for the year. From what I understand, this method only works if your area gets very brief instances of 15-20 degrees Fahrenheit at the absolute lowest. Otherwise, moringa may be better suited as a greenhouse dweller, at least for part of the year. I am very spoiled in that I live in the subtropics, where we are the precise temperature of hell itself for half the year.

This is actually a plant I had never heard of before in my life, until it showed up on the tables at work. I decided to buy one of my own and give it a try, since it was just a few dollars for this allegedly low-maintenance plant. First world health nuts seem to be making a huge deal about moringa now, as if this is the one plant to rule them all. It's to have a whole laundry list of vitamins and minerals in the top growth, as well as protein and fiber, basically a living multivitamin. The seeds can be used to make cooking oil or purify water. The seed pods are also supposed to be good food when cooked and eaten in moderation. The thing I find appealing about its use, is that the leaves can be hidden in other food. Dried and ground into a powder, it's just tasteless enough to throw in with many of your meals. This would be good once I actually bring some in to experiment with for the first time, as I'm a picky American who doesn't like gutting through tastes I'm not used to in the name of health.
 

Mart

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And here I was, thinking about starting a thread to ask if anyone had a neat compilation of plants and their esoteric properties... :D Keep 'em coming!
 

SkullTraill

Glorious Light of Knowledge and Power
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Holy shit man, really? That’s actually cool. Anything more you know about how the plant is used as a food?
The only way I've seen it cooked over here is people take a moringa (the whole drumstick – the fruit, the part that has the seeds) not the leaves though, and they slow cook it in what they call a white curry, though everything is called a curry here so I'm not sure if that's the most accurate way to describe it. I don't know off the top of my head what actually goes into it, apart from coconut milk and salt. It's a very light colored dish, almost white, slightly yellow.

I'll try to take a picture of it next time I see it, and inquire about the full list of ingredients. It's eaten with rice + other curries. Never on it's own.
 

Scottish_Pride

Meme-y Tree Nymph
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The only way I've seen it cooked over here is people take a moringa (the whole drumstick – the fruit, the part that has the seeds) not the leaves though, and they slow cook it in what they call a white curry, though everything is called a curry here so I'm not sure if that's the most accurate way to describe it. I don't know off the top of my head what actually goes into it, apart from coconut milk and salt. It's a very light colored dish, almost white, slightly yellow.

I'll try to take a picture of it next time I see it, and inquire about the full list of ingredients. It's eaten with rice + other curries. Never on it's own.
Please do, if you can! That's really cool. Maybe if I can find a recipe somewhere online or something, I could even convince my family to try it. That is, once the tree I have starts making drumsticks.
 

Scottish_Pride

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Alrighty, so here's some more:

Angelica
My experience with this herb, was sadly, very short. I bought myself a plant, and it died of what I think may have been root rot a month later. I do want to try again someday, because DAMN the energy I felt off of it was impressive. Just wham. A bolt of its own overwhelming, burning force right in your face. Definitely the strongest thing I've encountered when it comes to an herb for banishing/exorcism, maybe just a tad harsh even.


Tulsi Basil
This is a lesser-known type of basil, also called sacred basil or holy basil. It has had significant medicinal and spiritual connotations in India for centuries, especially in Hinduism. We happened to have some plants at work for a while that were giving seeds, and out of curiosity I gently pulled some off to bring home. These seeds got planted a bit ago, and they're just now starting to go from seedlings to being juvenile plants. They're currently nowhere near big enough to pick from. But when they are, I may try a recipe for combining it with black tea.


Lavender
My relationship with this plant is one I can only describe as that of unrequited love. I absolutely adore the calming smell and general comfy feel of lavender, but it seems to never stick around for long during my sad attempts at cultivation. My climate in particular makes lavender very challenging as a live plant, as both the rainfall and humidity go directly against its need to stay dry. The best thing you can do is keep it in a terra cotta pot, with lots of perlite or gravel mixed into the soil. The more drainage, the better. Throwing a tiny bit of lime or wood ash into the soil mix could also further help, to get soil pH level slightly alkaline. Once the plant's in the pot, basically just ignore it really hard. Hardly feed it, never water unless it's visibly drooping. Lavender wants nothing more than to be abused, and is the biggest masochist of the plant world I've ever seen. Giving it the neglect it needs is honestly the part I struggle with the most, as my first instinct is to just smother plants in love and resources.
 

Scottish_Pride

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So I'll be making a quick update on the tulsi basil now. Even though the seedlings are doing okay still, their growth seems to be getting a little stunted. Both a disease outbreak on the seedling tray and the possibility of my grow light no longer being strong enough are culprits. Though I'm working hard to amend both these issues and am seeing steady progress, I decided to spring for one fully grown plant of the tulsi basil. They got more in at work, and they're already flowering/giving off seeds. According to my research, they do this throughout their mature lives, and unlike with your standard Italian basil, letting those seeds form doesn't cause the plant to die quicker. So I'll be getting more seeds off that one plant soon. Which is great, because apparently tulsi basil and Italian basil can cross-breed if flowering within 150 feet of each other, affecting seed offspring. I'd rather not have that happen, so I'll be collecting as many seeds as I can before my Italian basil plants decide to do their thing as well.

Sometimes I'll fool around with some of the edible plants at work if they're overgrowing, like taking an occasional lettuce leaf to munch on or using fennel and lovage to doctor a can of Campbell's soup on lunch break. So I made some chai tea in my water bottle and added a bit of the tulsi basil. And oh my GOD does it really compliment that as a flavor. Taste like it really belongs in chai, tbh. So I'll probably be doing that quite a bit, not that I've got my own mature plant. For now, though, I'll be taking a couple days to observe how it adapts to its new home, as I don't wanna fuck up and take much from it if it's about to go into transplant shock. Though I've been told tulsi basil's just as hardy as its Italian cousin, I can't help but want to baby the plant because of how much more delicate it looks.
 

Konsciencia

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Scottish_Pride!! I think that is beautiful that you care for the Plants. It is awesome, is like me with Water!! I really learned a lot from you so that's good. Take care my friend, and many blessings!!
 

Scottish_Pride

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Scottish_Pride!! I think that is beautiful that you care for the Plants. It is awesome, is like me with Water!! I really learned a lot from you so that's good. Take care my friend, and many blessings!!
I'm glad somebody enjoys my bit of nerdery here. XD

I've got some more plants I wanna write about fairly soon, so this is by no means all of it yet. ;)
 

Lyssia

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I'm glad somebody enjoys my bit of nerdery here. XD

I've got some more plants I wanna write about fairly soon, so this is by no means all of it yet.
Oh, I'm enjoying it greatly! Mostly with fascination and admiration, since my version of "gardening" is generally more honestly called "gratuitous and sadistic plant abuse." Though, with what you wrote above, I'm battling my conscience about attempting lemongrass.
 

Scottish_Pride

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Oh, I'm enjoying it greatly! Mostly with fascination and admiration, since my version of "gardening" is generally more honestly called "gratuitous and sadistic plant abuse." Though, with what you wrote above, I'm battling my conscience about attempting lemongrass.
Lmao, honestly that's what I started out doing too. But I've had gardening as a hobby/fixation since I was about 10, and basically have always had some sort of plant to take care of since. And now I'm going to school for horticulture, with a plant nursery job on the side that teaches me things. I will tell you in a heartbeat that I STILL kill stuff, to this day. I just maybe kill them a bit less often. Living things are never guaranteed to survive, no matter what you do. 😂

What kind of climate do you live in, though? Depending on that, lemongrass may actually make a pretty good beginner plant. As long as you have room in the ground or a decently sizeable pot, that is.
 

Lyssia

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I'm in zone 6a and 6b. I have plenty of land space, so that's not an issue - though lemongrass would have to share space with my abundant lemon balm - but I do have lots of issues with deer, mice, groundhogs, and apparently at least one rabbit. And human neighbors, but that's mostly limited to the front areas.
 

Scottish_Pride

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I'm in zone 6a and 6b. I have plenty of land space, so that's not an issue - though lemongrass would have to share space with my abundant lemon balm - but I do have lots of issues with deer, mice, groundhogs, and apparently at least one rabbit. And human neighbors, but that's mostly limited to the front areas.
In that case, the kind of hard freezes in zone 6 will kill it I’m afraid.

Mugwort may be an equally hard-to-kill option, though! Probably others you could try too, but mugwort and wormwood are both known to grow well in a wide variety of cooler conditions. (I intend to write about my own experiences with these at some point, but haven’t gotten around to it yet)
 

SkullTraill

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Can't you use greenhouses and indoor farming methods for small plants like these to avoid the issues with the cold from outside?
 

Scottish_Pride

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Can't you use greenhouses and indoor farming methods for small plants like these to avoid the issues with the cold from outside?
You can, but not everybody has the equipment on hand or a greenhouse. It can get a little pricey for initial setup, though often worth it in cold climates. Even growing indoors still requires a light source that'll emit what plants need from the sun, unless you stick to plants that are particularly okay with shade.
 

Lyssia

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In the area where I live, you need a permit from the city to set up a greenhouse outdoors, and it's the kind of thing to which the neighbors would object. Cold frames are a possibility, eventually, as is setting up a small growing station in my basement, but that's several years away at best. I don't know if lemongrass would work in a cold frame, though, unless it was pretty big and the cold frame was permanent?
 
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